My Personal List of the “Stand Out” Reality TV Shows

There are hundreds of reality shows on TV. Some are better than others, but all of them cater to a certain audience that cannot get enough voyeurism …looking through the TV at a microcosm of a “real” person’s life. The true masterminds behind a successful reality TV show make every person interesting. Maybe that’s because we are all so different and unique. I have a few personal favorites and I’m going to break the down into subgenres, if you will.

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  The Drama Series

  • The Real World- this is probably my overall hands down favorite Reality TV show. I really appreciated the show during the first three to four seasons, as they tackled some fairly serious topics that everyone faces or knows someone who has been through these experiences. Some of the conflicts revolved around racism, homosexuality, religion, terminal illness, abortion and right to life, drinking and driving, substance abuse and romantic relationships. For me, the biggest cast member that

    I remember fondly was from the second season, Pedro Zamora. He let the world into what his life was like as a gay man infected with AIDS. He educated his roommates and the audience with his poignant and passionate struggles with his health and the stigma attached to the disease. He touched many hearts, long after he passed away.

  • OC- The Real Orange County- this drama revolved around a group of friends and acquaintances as the struggled through school, their romantic relationships, heartbreaks and friendships. This series ran for several seasons, and then branched out into other shows, including The Hills. The Hills followed four women from the OC after high school, going through college, getting their first professional jobs, and of course their relationships with each other.

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The Survival Series

  • Survivor- I’m going with as my favorite pick in this category. Survivor dominated the evening time slot for eight years (2003-2011). The show placed people in deserted places with each other and they had to compete for food, water, supplies and physical challenges. During elimination nights, the other cast members would vote privately to remove someone from the game. This game was about strategy. Sometimes the best skilled person was viewed as a threat and voted off. Other times, lazy people were voted off. It was, and still is one of the best.

    Naked and Afraid-this is new to the scene but popular. It puts two people of the opposite sex in a remote area and they must survive together for 21 days. Oh, and they are completely naked. The sensitive body parts are blocked out, but these people struggle. I’ve learned basic survival from watching what works and doesn’t work for the contestants. It’s fascinating.

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  • American Chopper- this was a long running series that was popular with men and women alike. It followed a small family known for crafting specialty, one of a kind themed motorcycles. The Patriarch, Paul was a tough guy who drove his staff hard, including his sons. What I loved about this show was the realness of this family and their dysfunctional relationships. And it was a treat to watch them grow from a small garage, to a beautiful, state of the art facility. It was a pleasure to watch such success through hard work and commitment.
  • Dirty Jobs- Mike Rowe is the man! This show follows a guy as he works alongside people with some of the most unpleasant jobs around. His on screen charisma and sense of humor made this show successful.

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There are so many shows I should mention, but not today. Subgenres such as Soaps (Housewives Series, Kardashians), Talent (American Idol, Dancing With the Stars), and Romance (Bachelor/Bachelorette) and hundreds of others. There is truly a reality show for just about anyone’s interest and tastes.  I’m going to have a beer now and watch “Cupcake Wars”…don’t judge! We all have a guilty pleasure. This one’s mine.

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Anyone who has a true passion for something usually can pinpoint when that started for him or her. For me, it began when I was a young boy, watching the sole black and white TV in our house, complete with rabbit ears for reception control and a mere three or four channels. My Dad worked long hours and my Mom discovered frozen TV dinners. I used to love eating those things,

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